Colorado Rights Blog


  • Cedric Watkins is a father, uncle, entrepreneur-in-training, and a vital community pillar for many others. While behind bars, he has tirelessly devoted himself to serving his peers and his community. He developed gang disaffiliation programs for other incarcerated individuals and is currently involved with Defy Ventures. He sends letters and calls his daughter as much as he can.

    Cedric is currently in prison at Sterling Correctional Facility. He was convicted of aggravated robbery, burglary, kidnapping, theft and sentenced to 80 years; no one was seriously injured or killed. For comparison, a person convicted of second-degree murder in Colorado faces a maximum sentence of 48 years. Cedric has already served 20 years and has fully rehabilitated during that time.

    It’s time to bring Cedric home: Redemption is real. Clemency is compassion.

  • On November 21, 2016, 13 Aurora police officers responded to a simple noise complaint at Alberto Torres’s home. As happens all too often, Aurora police officers escalated this minor issue into a brutal affair. They beat Mr. Torres solely because he delayed exiting his garage to ask his wife to interpret for him. With that beating, the lives of Mr. Torres and every member of his family were changed and he has yet to recover. ACLU of Colorado fought to obtain justice for Mr. Torres, and Aurora has now paid him $285,000. But money is not justice, and the brutality of the Aurora Police Department against people of color has continued unabated.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Imagine, if instead of 13 officers being dispatched to Mr. Torres’s home for a noise complaint, the City of Aurora sent a civilian-led response team to check on his welfare and ask that he and his friends lower their sound, resulting in a non-violent solution to a minor issue?

    ACLU Settles Case With Aurora After Police Brutalize and Unlawfully Arrest Alberto Torres

  • Hope is a discipline. It’s a commitment that together, we can create a more perfect union. We won’t rest until we fulfill the promise of equal rights for ALL people in the United States.

    Join us in our fight to fulfill this promise and move forward with hope by donating to the ACLU of Colorado. Your donation supports the ACLU’s strengths that make our work effective and collaborative.

    Donate now at

  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people. 

ACLU of Colorado Announces 2016 Ballot Positions

DENVER – As ballots are being mailed out starting today to every Colorado voter, the ACLU of Colorado announced positions on three statewide initiatives and one Denver charter amendment.  The ACLU of Colorado also created a voter information page with key dates, information on registration, ballot return, and the voting rights of students, overseas voters, people who are homeless and people who are currently or have been incarcerated.

The following are the ACLU of Colorado’s official positions on the 2016 Colorado ballot: 

SUPPORT Proposition 106 – End of Life Options Act

The ACLU has historically been and remains a strong advocate for the right of individuals who are terminally ill (defined as having six months or less to live) to decide how to spend their final days, how to manage or avoid pain and suffering, and how to face death, including the right to seek physician assistance in ending one’s own life.

While the ACLU supports aid in dying, it also recognizes the need for protections from abuse of these laws.  The ACLU of Colorado fully supports Proposition 106, but advocates strong reporting practices to ensure no one acts under lack of alternatives, misunderstanding or undue pressure, and the ACLU encourages all Coloradans to carefully consider the concerns of the disability community.  Under no circumstances should the lives of people with disabilities be devalued, and it should never be suggested that living with a disability means living with anything less than full meaning and dignity.

For more information, please read ACLU of Colorado Supports Aid in Dying, and As a Civil Libertarian, I Struggle with Colorado’s Aid in Dying Ballot Initiative.

OPPOSE Amendment 71 – Requirements for Initiated Constitutional Amendments

The ACLU has long maintained that fundamental Constitutional rights should not be subject to majority vote, and shares concerns that the Colorado Constitution is too easy to amend.  But Amendment 71 goes too far.  By requiring a percentage of signatures from all 35 state senate districts, Amendment 71 would essentially shut off access to a vital part of the democratic process to all but the most highly-resourced special interests.  The signature requirement would make it extremely difficult to get rid of past amendments to the Constitution, and it would give veto power to a single district to block a vote on matters of statewide significance.  Equal access for all citizens to the democratic process is an ACLU value, and for these reasons we urge voters to reject Amendment 71.

SUPPORT Amendment T – Remove Slavery from the Colorado Constitution

Even though Colorado was never a slave state, our state Constitution still contains language allowing slavery — as a punishment for crime.  Words matter and slavery in any circumstance is immoral.  Amendment T was placed on the ballot unanimously by both houses of the Colorado legislature.  By voting Yes on T, Colorado voters can remove that archaic language from our Constitution and send a clear message that whatever our criminal justice system is, it should not be slavery.

For more information, read Take Out Slavery – Vote YES on Amendment T.

SUPPORT Amendment 2B (Denver Ballot) – Include the Independent Monitor in the Denver Charter

The Office of the Independent Monitor is a critical police accountability tool that is primarily responsible to the people of Denver. The Independent Monitor currently only exists in City ordinance, which means it could easily be dissolved by the Mayor or City Council. By placing the Independent Monitor in the City Charter, it could only be removed or dissolved by a vote of the people.  The Independent Monitor would be solidified by Amendment 2B and further empowered to protect the rights of the citizens of Denver by holding law enforcement accountable.

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